Athabasca University’s 4-year Accounting Bachelor’s Degree program, like actual accounting in daily practice, does not require students to know or learn calculus or other fancy STEM-related math (sinusoidal functions, trigonometry, etc.) useful for designing rocket ships, but not exactly relevant to figuring out if spreadsheet columns add up (add, subtract, multiply, divide), when a company will go bankrupt (linear algebra), or how long an annuity will pay out (compound interest calculations).

What math is actually required? You need to walk in with grade school level math skills. And the program requires only two math courses, though if you are terrible with figures and hate working with numbers, perhaps accounting isn’t a great career choice. In accounting you will be using numbers all the time, so the math that you are taught/re-taught, particularly percentages and compound interest calculations, you will certainly be expected to be perfectly proficient with (that’s what you’ll be getting paid for). Here are the bare minimum requirements:

- No high school math required – As per Math 244 recommendations, “students are expected to be able to perform the basic arithmetic operations—addition, subtraction, multiplication and division—with ease, and to have some familiarity with fractions, with algebraic operations, and with some basic mathematical principles.” So, basically, sixth grade math with a touch of eighth grade algebra. If you are a bit rusty, Khan Academy will help.
- Math 244 – Business Mathematics – Units include: “Mathematical Operations; Basic Algebra; Ratios, Proportions, and Percentages; Marketing Mathematics; Applications of Linear Equations; Data Analysis and Statistics; Principles of Simple Interest; Principles of Compound Interest; Annuities; Loans and Mortgages; Bonds and Sinking Funds; Investment Decisions.” In other words, straight-forward stuff relevant to accounting without going beyond the difficulty of ninth grade algebra. You can save yourself half the tuition for the course using the challenge for credit (test out) option if you are already proficient with this material.
- MGSC 301 – Statistics for Business and Economics I – A statistics (“stats”) course of some kind is required for the degree. There are other options (Math 215 or Math 216), but this one is both recommended by the school and looks to be the most relevant to the field.

As an open university, Athabasca requires no prerequisite high school courses or diplomas to register in their programs (no math, English, science, nothing), though that does not mean you can come in as a blank slate. If you aren’t prepared for their courses, you will simply lose your money. But if you are prepared by other means and simply lack an educational pedigree, you will be given a fair chance to prove yourself. They will not protect you from your own foolishness, though at $750 or so per course (take one course at a time until you get handle on things) and no need to move away and sign a rental agreement (dorm or private) in a strange city, your potential financial losses are limited. If you are at least 16 years old (or younger with some added paperwork) and have access to a credit card, you’re in.